Issues with my dies


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hadmanysons
April 7, 2010, 01:09 AM
I have two sets of dies, a 30-06 Lee Pacesetter set and a 308 Deluxe set. I have noticed that with the seating dies for both cartridges, COAL can vary as much as .015" That is really annoying because if I want to get as exact as possible I have to back off the depth adjustment every time and slowly dial it down with each round to reach the same or approximate COAL. The OAL length of the brass shouldn't affect COAL because the bottom of the die touches the shell holder every time, right? I even trimmed all the brass to the same length, to the best of my ability, and it still came out with this variance. :banghead:

Am I doing something wrong? Do I have unreasonable expectations for the accuracy of my dies? I realize I didn't spend $85 on a "Competition" seating die but nothing is changing from round to round. The only thing that I could think of would be that maybe the bullets aren't all EXACTLY the same length. I have noticed a few bullets that had a little extra piece at the tip.

Also, with the Lee Collet neck die for 308, neck tension is really inconsistent. Sometimes a 168gr SMK will get about 3/4 down the boat tail before being held by the neck, sometimes almost all the way, rarely it's about halfway up the boat tail. I know it says a minimum of 25lbs of pressure, which I'm pretty sure I'm applying because I'm flexing the plywood top of my bench a good amount. I'm pretty sure i see the collet move up when the shell holder hits it. How much is it supposed to move?

Am I doing something wrong here too? Am I retarded? I can except that answer as long as some one tells me how to fix it.

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Sport45
April 7, 2010, 01:14 AM
Are you measuring length to the ogive or to the bullet tip? The latter is not as important and the bullet causes more variance than the dies typically do. How to the base to ogive measurements compare from round to round?

I don't have a collet neck sizing die so I can't offer much there. But is the brass all from the same lot? Seems the brass would all have to be the same to get the same neck tension.

hadmanysons
April 7, 2010, 01:27 AM
I am NOT measuring to the ogive. How does a man of um.... how to say.... fiscally conservative tastes go about doing that?

The brass IS all from the same lot and fired not but a few minutes apart. All handled the same, tumbled the same, same same same

rjbishop
April 7, 2010, 01:36 AM
What press are you using?

One of the common problems is you must be sure the shell holder firmly seats against the bottom of the die- this will ensure all the "play" in your press is taken out. Once you have confirmed this, then you set your bullet seating depth.

I get +- .002 when using Lee dies (and that's measuring OAL, not to the bullet ogive- but of course quality bullets.

ReloaderFred
April 7, 2010, 01:47 AM
First of all, before you load any of your bullets, measure the lengths of the bullets themselves. You're going to find some variances in bullet lengths.

You have to understand that the dies aren't pushing on the tip of the bullet when it's being seated. The seating stem is a cone, and contacts the bullet on the ogive. When it pushes the bullet into the neck of the case, the point on the ogive that is being pushed against is the measuring point for the seated bullet, not the tip of the bullet, even though that's what you're measuring. The overall length has more to do with case volume and leade of the chamber than it does with the actual measurement, if that makes any sense to you. Also, in some rifles, a shorter overall length is required for the round to fit in the magazine and feed properly.

I've probably only confused you with this, but without writing a whole chapter on the subject, this is where your problem lies, not in the brass.

Hope this helps.

Fred

P-32
April 7, 2010, 04:26 AM
ReloaderFred hit the nail square on the head. You even got it right.

The only thing that I could think of would be that maybe the bullets aren't all EXACTLY the same length.

Even the SMK's can be a little different in length out of the same box. 15 thousands is a wide spread and I understand the frustration. Keep in mind damage to the base of the bullet does more to affect how a bullet fly's than the nose of the bullet. Most rifle seaters seat by pushing on the ogive of the bullet. Because the end of a match bullet jacket is drawn out and ends up with a small hole, the bullet lenght can be different. To fix this, there are Meplat uniformers which even out the end of the bullet. Most give up on the plan because it is a pain in the arse after a while.

When I load match ammo I alway make sure a random sample of at least 10 rounds will work in at least one of the mags I use to shoot matches. So far this has always worked to make sure my ammo doesn't hang up in the mags. If I have 1 round hanging up I shorten the entire lot by a couple of thousands and try it again.

I would make your finished ammo fit your mag and call it good. The Ogive's should be pretty close and thats what counts.

If your brass is having issues with neck tension, I would suggest maybe it's time for new brass.

Now for the bad news.....I have a 308 M-1 which is match tuned. The gun plummer said to reload 308 brass no more than 3 times. (M-14/M-1A same rules) I have gone 4 with no ill effects but if your shooting a bolt gun you should get a few more times out of your brass.

JimKirk
April 7, 2010, 07:00 AM
http://www.sinclairintl.com/product/5582/s

http://www.sinclairintl.com/images/large/09-700_a-l.jpg

Use the above product with your calipers to get an accurate measurement of the OAL using the ogive. There are two sizes of the Hex nut devise that fit just about any caliber bullet.

Jimmy K

Walkalong
April 7, 2010, 07:30 AM
fiscally conservativeSee post above. Works great.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=119213&stc=1&d=1270640248

243winxb
April 7, 2010, 08:38 AM
http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/faq/index.cgi Seating depth variations

There are a number of possible causes for overall length variation. One is the way it is measured. If you measure overall length from the tip of the bullet to the base of the case, remember to subtract the variation due to bullet length tolerance. The bullets will vary in length due to manufacturing tolerances (bullets with exposed lead noses are the worst in this regard) and this will add to the overall cartridge length variation. Remember that the bullet seater plug does not (or shouldn't) contact the tip of the bullet when seating, but contacts farther down the ogive. For a more accurate seating depth measurement, take the seater plug out of the bullet seating die, place it on top of the cartridge and measure from the base of the case to the top of the seater plug.

Another possible cause for bullet seating depth variation is seating and crimping at the same time when trying to apply a firm crimp to untrimmed cases. Variation in case length also causes variation in the amount of crimp applied. Long cases get a heavier crimp than short ones. When seating and crimping at the same time, the crimp is formed as the bullet is seated into the case. The crimp will form sooner on a long case, and therefore the bullet will not be seated as deeply. The solution is to seat and crimp in a separate step (the Lee Factory Crimp die is good for this) and/or trim cases to a uniform length.

The amount of force required to cycle a progressive press varies with the number of cases in the shell plate. When the shell plate is full, it is harder to lower the lever than when there are one or two cases present. This can lead to variation in cartridge overall length because there are different loads placed on the working parts of the press. When the shell plate is full, seating depth will be slightly long, because the load is higher and all of the clearances are taken up. With the shell plate nearly empty, the load is not great enough to squeeze out these clearances, and the seating depth is short.

243winxb
April 7, 2010, 08:50 AM
You may need a smaller custom mandrel from Lee.From Lee website > Collet Die adjustment

If you are using the Collet die in an RCBS Rockchucker press, or a similar design that toggles over center at the top of the (ram) stroke, this applies far greater force than is necessary to resize just the neck of the case, and can damage the die or collapse the case. To correct this situation, adjust the die two full turns into the press after the die contacts the shell holder with the ram at the top of its stroke, rather than one as in the instructions. This will stop the press before it gets to the toggle over point. With a press without having an over center feature, apply about 25 lbs. of pressure to the handle once it bottoms out to resize the case. On most presses, this translates to over 600 lbs of pressure on the ram.

The collet might be stuck in the closed position from closing the die without a case inside. Remove the cap from the top of the Collet die and push the mandrel, collet sleeve and collet out through the top of the die. Open the collet back up with a tapered punch or Phillips screwdriver.

If this occurs with a full length sizing die, the decapper/expander is out of adjustment. The decapper/expander should be flush with the top of the decapper clamp. If it protrudes more than 1/4 inch, the die will be resizing the inside and outside diameter of the case neck at the same time, resulting in a collapsed case shoulder.

Collet Die explanation

The Collet neck sizing die is superior to the competition's neck sizing die design because it squeezes the neck against a mandrel. This results in very uniform case mouth inner diameter, regardless of case wall thickness.

With bushing-type neck sizing dies, one has to select (and usually purchase) the appropriate bushing to get the desired case mouth inner diameter. Uniform case mouth inner diameter gives uniform bullet pull, and as you know, uniformity is what accurate ammunition is all about.

The Collet die set also includes what we call the "dead length" bullet seating die. This die is set up like a full length sizing die, in that one adjusts the die down so that the shell holder presses against the bottom of the die when the ram is at the top of its stroke. This pressure removes any clearance between the shell holder and ram, lever linkage, die threads and press frame, etc. and results in a more uniform bullet seating depth. Note that there is no provision for crimping in this die.
Collet die pressure exertion

All of the sizing in the Collet die takes place at the very end of the stroke, when the ram/shell holder appears to bottom out against the base of the die. If you lean into the handle at this point, you will force the collet up into the die body, and cause the collet to squeeze the case neck down against the mandrel (the very end of which pops out the spent primer). About 25 lbs. of force is sufficient to resize most cases. If you are sitting in front of your press, just leaning your upper body weight into the lever is about right.

A good way to determine how much is necessary is to start the case into the die and feel the die remove the primer. Start using pressure and work up to what you think is about 25 lbs. Remove the case from the die and attempt to place the intended bullet in the case neck. If there is little or no resistance, repeat the process with slightly more pressure. When you have reached a point where there are vertical striation marks on the outside of the case neck or the intended bullet does not fit easily into the case neck, the correct amount of pressure has been achieved.

hadmanysons
April 7, 2010, 11:46 AM
Ok. I am using the Lee Breech Lock Press (fiscally conservative, remember). And I am pretty sure that my shell holder is securely in place. I've never felt any play in it up, down, left or right.

I will give one of those hex nut deals a try. Thanks for clearing that up. Maybe it's not a variation at all and just variation in the bullet length and my stuff has been good to go this whole time.

As far as the neck tension goes, before this thread I disassembled the collet die to make sure that it was functioning properly, I had been putting my upper body weight into the die and I had been (forced) to try and put a bullet in each case, see it slide down, then neck size and make sure that bullet does not seat by hand. But still, while being as consistent as possible, the neck tension (as felt through force exerted on the ram while seating a bullet) can be very inconsistent.

rcmodel
April 7, 2010, 12:11 PM
you must be sure the shell holder firmly seats against the bottom of the die--this will ensure all the "play" in your press is taken out.This is not correct.
If you adjust a seating die like that, you will be applying so much crimp the case will wad up in a ball in the die!!

Firm shell holder contact is necessary for the sizing die.

But it most certainly isn't for the seating/crimping die.

rc

ranger335v
April 7, 2010, 08:39 PM
The few Lee "Dead Length" seaters I've used had no crimping ring. They were meant to be used with the shell holder hard against the bottom of the seating die and failure to use it that way negates a good percentage of what that die was designed to provide.

Mr. Hadmany, for most sporting rifles you are over agonising on OAL trivia. Find a seating depth that shoots good and allow the seating plug to do its thing, the ammo will be fine. No rifle really cares where the tips of the bullets are, they just hang in space.

rjbishop
April 8, 2010, 12:48 AM
This is not correct.
If you adjust a seating die like that, you will be applying so much crimp the case will wad up in a ball in the die!!

Firm shell holder contact is necessary for the sizing die.

But it most certainly isn't for the seating/crimping die.



Not true, as pointed out by ranger335v above. Lee Pacesetter and Deluxe sets for rifle do not have a crimping ring. Their directions specifically point out the proper adjustment, which is with the shell holder hard against the bottom of the seating die.

I would agree with you for pistol dies, or other manufacturers rifle dies in some cases.

hadmanysons
April 8, 2010, 01:01 AM
Mr. Hadmany, for most sporting rifles you are over agonising on OAL trivia. Find a seating depth that shoots good and allow the seating plug to do its thing, the ammo will be fine. No rifle really cares where the tips of the bullets are, they just hang in space.

And normally I wouldn't really worry about it. If I was making some hunting rounds for my 30-06 I wouldn't be stressing about consistency like that but this isn't the case. These are gonna be my loads for my rifle that I built to get out to 1000 yds and anything further that I find it's capable of. That would be why I was being so anal about everything. I'm not saying I don't appreciate your advice, cause I do, I just think I have a little justification for being as nit picky about this as I can be.

243winxb
April 8, 2010, 09:50 AM
Die set explanations :rolleyes:

Pacesetter die set Go here and read > http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/faq/index.cgi

Includes a full length sizing die, bullet seating die(taper & rolls in same die)., factory crimp die, shell holder, powder dipper and load data.
This set is recommended for assembling ammunition for hunting purposes as the finished rounds chamber easily and can withstand rough handling of the firearm action.


Deluxe die set

Includes both the full length(requires case lubrication) and Collet neck sizing dies, dead length bullet seating dieNo crimp., shell holder, powder dipper and load data.
This is essentially a Collet die set with the addition of the steel full length sizing die so that one can prepare newly acquired cases for the first firing in the rifle.


Dead Length Bullet Seating Explanation

The idea behind the floating bullet seater plug or "dead length bullet seating" is as follows; If you look inside the bullet seating die, you will see a restriction about 3/4 the way to the top of the die. This restriction is only .001 larger than bullet diameter, and is positioned so that when the bullet starts to seat into the case, the bearing surface will be passing through this restriction.

The bullet seater plug, being free to move axially, and due to the shape of the cavity will find the center of the nose, and a properly prepared case will find the center of the base of the bullet. The die should be turned in to touch the shell holder and is designed to be adjusted that way to eliminate clearance in the press for a more uniform bullet seating depth.

Most case/bullet alignment is determined in the resizing die. If the case neck is sized too small, the bullet will actually resize (open back up) the case neck when it is seated. If the case neck is thinner or softer on one side (and they usually are) the bullet will push out more on that side. Excessive crimp or an out of square case mouth can also cause bullet run out.

Dead Length die adjustment

Make sure that you have the bullet seating die adjusted down so that the shell holder contacts the base of the die when the ram is raised to the top of its stroke. The Deluxe die set comes with the Dead length bullet seating die, which does not crimp the case, and is designed to be adjusted that way to eliminate clearance in the press for a more uniform bullet seating depth.

ranger335v
April 8, 2010, 10:03 AM
"Lee Die Sets so confusing, just buy RCBS"

Well, a lack of choices does reduce the potential for confusion. I've seen TV reports of Russians returning home because America is too confusing; so many kinds of green beans and milk, so many colors of skirts and shoes, so many brands and prices of tires and tools, etc.

To each his own, according to how well he can handle making choices. Personally, I kinda like having as many options as possible, it allows me to better select things that work the way I want them to work.

rjbishop
April 9, 2010, 12:42 AM
243winxb- Thanks for clearing that up. I had forgotten that Pacesetter dies include crimp in the seating die (I only use Deluxe Sets, and buy the factory crimp separately).

Duckdog
April 9, 2010, 07:05 AM
You need to measure to the bullets olgive for an accurate measurement with either that hex nut, or a Stoney Point comparatator for measuring the bullets overal length, as the brass and bullets are not anywhere close to being the same, as was mentioned above. I have never had an issue with the dies, but rather the other variables. Ive even made my own collets for measuring different calibers, such as 44, 45, etc and as long as they ride on the bullets olgive in a certain spot consistently, it will work just fine.

hadmanysons
April 9, 2010, 11:11 AM
So 243winxb, What I get from your previous post is that the collet die should be screwed in far enough that the shell holder touches the bottom of the die BODY and not just the collet. That could be my problem, that my shell holder isn't closing the collet enough because the ram reaches it max stroke before it can close the collet all the way.

243winxb
April 9, 2010, 02:24 PM
Yes but collet die needs turned down 1 more turn. OR > After the bottom of the die touches the shell holder with ram/shell holder full up, lower the ram/shell holder and turn die down 1 more turn. Or in other words, after making contact, screw the collet die down 1 more turn, if press cams over type 2 turns down. I do NOT own a Lee collet die, just reading instructions. :D

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